Posts Tagged ‘Lebron James’

The Point Four-ward: Then and Now

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

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Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) Okay, confession time. I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers. Still. To this day.

In particular, as these playoffs have continued, I’ve found myself increasingly suspicious of the narrative that LeBron James is pulling along his current crop of overmatched Cavalier teammates kicking and screaming on his one-man mission to return to the Finals. Clearly, James has been huge for the Cavaliers. No one is arguing against that. It just seemed like there was a difference between this year’s team and James’s previous Cavaliers squads, particularly the one that made the 2007 Finals — that even if the Cavs were leaning on James more in these playoffs (and your can’t argue that James’s 2015’s playoff usage rate of 36.4% is a substantial uptick from the 29.7% usage he posted in the 2007 playoffs) that his teammates this year were performing better in support of James.

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5-on-5: Your Eastern Conference Champs! — Updated

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

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Still buzzing after the Cavs 118-88 Game 4 Win over the Atlanta Hawks that moved the Cavaliers four wins away from the city’s first major professional sports championship in 51 years, Cory, Tom, Nate, Mallory and I had a little chat about your Eastern Conference Champion Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) At what point in the season did you start to believe that this team could return to the NBA Finals?

Nate: It happened twice. The first time was when the Cavs dismantled Memphis on March 25th to win by 22 points. The Grizz were the second best team in the West at the time, and the Cavs gave them one of their signature third quarter floggings. Kevin Love scored 22 on 13 shots; Irving, 24; LeBron, 20; Moz, 14… After Kelly’s killer armbar, we all had our doubts, but David Wood’s revelations about the Cavs super D lineups (featuring TT, Delly, Bron, and Shump) gave me faith. I was fully aboard the Finals bandwagon again after Game two versus the Bulls. I knew if the Cavs could get a split at home without J.R., they’d be OK. Cleveland jumped all over the Bulls, racing out to a 20 point lead in the first quarter, and LeBron rediscovered his post game. Cleveland turned into a team that’s impossible to beat with a lead in the fourth, and I knew the Bulls were hosed.

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Recap: Cavs 114, Hawks 111 OT (or There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South)

Monday, May 25th, 2015

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The Atlanta Hawks franchise proved that the New South still has the same sensibilities as the Old South with their duo of race scandals during the preseason. Many, including myself, assumed that the distractions off the court would affect the performance of the team, and they proved all doubters wrong, posting a franchise record 60-22 season. An overlooked stat of the Hawks was that they had the lowest point differential in league history for a 60-win team. They fielded four all-stars, but no superstars in a sport dominated by them and come late Tuesday night, their 2014-15 season will probably be swept away like red clay dust from the back porch and they’ll be Gone with the Wind.

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Recap: Cavs 94, Hawks 82 (or, “You Smell Something Burning?”)

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

In 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman marched his union forces through Atlanta, destroying nearly everything in his path, and leaving the city not much more than a smoldering ruin. A little more than 150 years later, LeBron Raymone James led his rag-tag band of teammates on their own journey to do some damage in Atlanta, but this time it was merely the Hawks and their home court advantage that went up in flames.

With a long list of wounded, including two of his “big three” partners, LBJ found a way to marshall all of the remaining King’s men and exhort them into helping him thoroughly dismantle Atlanta’s once mighty basketball team. The latest casualty was Kyrie Irving, whose legs had finally betrayed him during the initial skirmish of Game 1. However, the Cavs “next man up” philosophy ensured that there would be no drop off in intensity or will. And they would show the Hawks no mercy, torching them on their own floor, in front of their disbelieving fans (many of whom fled for the exits to escape the conflagration).

What began as a fairly hotly contested game in the first half, turned in the third quarter when the Cavaliers cranked up their defense to smothering. Using a 24-9 run to push their lead out to 20, the Cavs blew away the Hawks, and blazed their way to a commanding 2-0 series lead.

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Preview/Live Thread: Cavs @ Hawks, ECF Game 2 [UPDATED: Kyrie Out for Game 2]

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

While the Cavs stole home court from the Hawks and jumped out to an early series lead after winning Game 1, 97-89, they head into Game 2 with a great deal of uncertainty regarding without Kyrie Irving due to an aching left knee. Irving missed the team’s morning shootaround, instead spending the time getting a further evaluation on his knee after treatment. The latest news had him getting another MRI on the knee, and he is listed as “questionable” now out for tonight’s game.

“This is obviously one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever dealt with,” Irving said after Game 1. “We do days and days and go out there and it’s nothing like simulating a game so for me, I just have to continue to do what I’ve been doing and do whatever is necessary to put myself out there. I’m all about winning. That’s the only thing that matters.”

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The Point Four-ward: Letting It Fly

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

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Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) It’s darned near impossible to overstate the importance of the three point shot in the playoffs. In the Cavs most recent six game series against the Chicago Bulls, there were several instances where a player getting hot from deep helped to swing the game. There was Mike Dunleavy’s first quarter outburst in Game 1, J.R. Smith’s three big triples in the fourth quarter of a crucial Game 4 that set up the game winning shot by LeBron James, while Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova took turns keeping Game 6 en fuego.

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Five on Five: Conference Finals Edition

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

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1. If you’re the Cavs, what worries you the most going into a series against the Atlanta Hawks?

Tom: I worry about the Cavs being able to match up with the front line of the Hawks.  They got away with playing James Jones because Joakim Noah with so useless offensively. But that’s not going to work against Paul Millsap or Al Horford. they’ve had slow start with Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson playing together. The key to the series may be LeBron James guarding Paul Millsap.

Cory: Kyle Korver shot a sizzling .492 3P% on 449 attempts during the regular season, but has struggled from downtown against the Wizards. Bradley Beal blanketed Korver through their series and it was effective as Korver shot just 12 for 42 from beyond the arc. He’s due to breakout of his shooting funk.

Ben: Dennis Schröder. That kid is insanely slippery. He walks around the court like he owns the place and it rubs some people the wrong way. There are also the Rondo comparisons that lead many to assume he is a headcase. And hey, his German status has confused people into thinking he dominated a chair in his youth. However, he is a very fine player who is only getting better. He is incredibly long on the perimeter. (I was just chatting with a German buddy of man who got yanked from his youth game after Dennis picked his pocket on four consecutive trips). He and Teague should be able to give Kyrie some trouble even if Uncle Drew feels fresh like Nephew Drew. Schröder is a much better shooter than Rondo every dreamed of being and has already mastered the change of pace drive going either way. He has a knack for getting his shoulder by the defender as if it were buttered. The Cavs have had some trouble against lightening quick PGs. It will probably be up to Shump to shut him down.

David: I’m worried about the Hawks offense starting to look like it did in the middle of the season. When the Hawks destroyed the Cavs by 29 points in December, it was because their guards would cut into the paint and then whip the the ball to the open shooter. If Kyrie is still running around like he has a stick taped to his leg, there would be even more pressure on Mozgov to mean mug away possible penetration. Delly might have to play 48 minutes then too. Relying on those two guys full-time scares me.

Robert: The Cavs need to be very cautious about starting games as slowly as they did against Chicago. I don’t think you can expect this Hawks team to take a quarter off from scoring like the Bulls often did to let the Cavs claw their way back into the game.

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The Point Four-ward: When The Going Gets Tough…

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

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Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) Coming into this series, one of my biggest concerns was how the Cavaliers’ toughness would stack up against the Chicago Bulls.

The Bulls, after all, roll out a number of players — point guard Derrick Rose, swingman Jimmy Butler and center Joakim Noah, in particular — who are long, strong and, overall, play a more physical style than their Cavaliers counterparts. The Bulls also feature a deep and talented front court rotation that, along with the 6-11 Noah, include 6-9 Taj Gibson, 6-10 rookie Nikola Mirotic and the 7-0 All-Star Pau Gasol, who is “hopeful” he’ll be able to play in Thursday night’s Game 6 after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury.

But, beyond being physically tough — which the Bulls definitely are — they are one of the most mentally tough teams in the league.

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Recap: Cavs 86, Bulls 84 (No Bank Necessary)

Monday, May 11th, 2015

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This series has become a full-on war of attrition.  The Cavs and the Bulls are nearly evenly matched and the drama has been overwhelming.  And I’m only talking about the on-court drama.  There are enough stories (real, embellished, manufactured) off the court to fill a small library.  Game 4 was a dogfight from start to finish, an often unsavory spectacle befit two midwestern teams.  Both squads had prolonged periods of drowning in quicksand: After harnessing all the momentum and looking to stomp on the Cavs’ throat, the Bulls suffered through seven minutes without a point in the second quarter.  A 16-0 run by the Cavs during this stretch tipped the balance towards the Wine and Gold.  In the third quarter, the Cavs went scoreless for just over seven minutes.  The Bulls’ 13-0 run during this stranglehold gave them a double-digit lead, which, in a game like this seemed insurmountable, especially given the battered Cavaliers’ roster.  But there would be one more period of sustained “YOU SHALL NOT PASS”-ery, and it was the Cavs defense completely stifling the Bulls pick-and-roll attack in the middle of the 4th quarter.  The Bulls managed a measly six points in the first eight minutes of the quarter, and the Cavs regained control of the battlefield behind some timely pipe-laying by Earl Smith III.  The final moments of the game will be discussed for a very long time.  In the end, Jimmy Butler hit a huge 3, and Derrick Rose turned back the clock a few years, blew by Iman Shumpert, and squeaked a contested layup past the help defense to improbably tie the game at 84, setting up a grueling overtime.  But with 1.5 seconds left, Delly pitched the easiest inbound pass of his life to one LeBron James who drilled a line-toed, long-2 off one leg as the buzzer sounded and the United Center crowd gasped for the wind that had been knocked out of its lungs.

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Podcast Episode 66: ‘Bron’s Windy City Winner

Monday, May 11th, 2015

On the heels of an epic and exhausting Game 4, Tom, EvilGenius, and I got in the studio for an emergency podcast to break down where we were when LeBron hit the shot heard round the Association. We broke down the game, the play, coach Blatt, and the war of attrition that has been this series.

Click above, on SoundCloud, or on iTunes to listen.